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Thread: Digital Capture vs. Film Capture...the PRINTS...

  1. #11

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    Re: Digital Capture vs. Film Capture...the PRINTS...

    What concerns me in all of this is not the inevitable comparisons of film versus digital images. Both have their own special look.

    My concern is where will this digital prominence lead us, say in the year 2059. Having been around awhile, I am using equipment that I purchased fifty years ago, for the majority of my work. I have made purchases along the way, but not many. That, of course, is due to the lack of great technological advances in film based photography over the last fifty years. When film and paper disappear, I will be out of business, but the beauty of aging is that both will be around as long as I will.

    So, my question is, how many photographers invovlved with digital work find it necessary to make major purchases to keep abreast of technological changes. Will what you purchase today be useful in fifty years, ten years, five years?

    Kirk, do you miss the days when a 90mm on a Calumet Wide was sufficient, or do you feel digital is giving your clients a better product? I think I know the answer, like all of us, former and present in your field, we strive to please the client and deliver accordingly. I have said this before, as a former commercial photographer I am relieved that I retired at about the time digital made an entrance. What little I comprehend about digital, I enjoy. For now, I will continue with what I understand best, silver.

  2. #12
    Founder QT Luong's Avatar
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    Re: Digital Capture vs. Film Capture...the PRINTS...

    Quote Originally Posted by Findingmyway4ever View Post
    After receiving some Canon 5D prints recently, only sized at 8X10, I found it a bit distracting that some prints about 3 years back made with a Contax G2 and 28mm and 45mm lenses, negative film, and printed to 8X12, look much better in these ways:

    1) Color
    2) Aliveness-feeling
    3) Artistic
    All those are subjective and don't have much to do with print size. However, all I can say is that without extensive processing, in my eyes, the color straight out of a Canon (in RAW) does not compare favorably to that out of a good film scan. This alone can make a print feel less "alive" or "artistic".

  3. #13

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    Re: Digital Capture vs. Film Capture...the PRINTS...

    Since Merg mentioned 2059, how much digital content from today will still be around compared to analog? Short term storage of digital media isn't much of a challenge, but very long term accessibility/archivability is.

    I just came across some images I took at a civil rights march in Forsyth County, Georgia in 1987, including one that was so apropos to the recent election it was amazing. It would take careful planning on my part to make sure I had digital images preserved 20 years from now. The images I found had simply been filed away.

  4. #14
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    Re: Digital Capture vs. Film Capture...the PRINTS...

    Quote Originally Posted by Findingmyway4ever View Post
    After receiving some Canon 5D prints recently, only sized at 8X10, I found it a bit distracting that some prints about 3 years back made with a Contax G2 and 28mm and 45mm lenses, negative film, and printed to 8X12, look much better ...
    Consider searching the archives before you post. This topic has been discussed, politely, with yelling and screaming, and just about any way a topic can be discussed, about a billion times already. There's nothing you or I can add that hasn't already been said. Sigh...

    Bruce Watson

  5. #15

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    Re: Digital Capture vs. Film Capture...the PRINTS...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Michael View Post
    Since Merg mentioned 2059, how much digital content from today will still be around compared to analog? Short term storage of digital media isn't much of a challenge, but very long term accessibility/archivability is.

    I just came across some images I took at a civil rights march in Forsyth County, Georgia in 1987, including one that was so apropos to the recent election it was amazing. It would take careful planning on my part to make sure I had digital images preserved 20 years from now. The images I found had simply been filed away.
    The question is: how many images from the '70s or '80 have faded to oblivion, burned, flooded or simply oxidized away due to improper processing for each of the images we find intact, especially color? I've seen shoeboxes full of such prints and film. When that happens, the image is more certainly lost than a digital image that has been accidentally deleted or is on a medium or in a format that we cannot read anymore.

    Yes, long term accessibility certainly does take some careful planning, but so does everything else. Digital is a completely new medium and one of its inherent strengths is repeatability. Every copy is a perfect copy, down to a bit, and is as easy to make as a simple flick of a wrist or a keypress. One can easily store a thousand perfect copies across the world if one so wishes in less time than it takes to describe it.

    One advantage of it is our ability to work on a copy instead on the original and so prevent destroying the image due to processing error. The other advantage is making solid, multiple backups in physically remote locations so we can easily prevent loss to the elements or accidents or even theft. All that is needed to ensure long term accessibility is to periodically copy the content to new media and/or (less frequently) convert to new formats. That can all be almost entirely automated.

    Yes, it does take very careful and systematic approach, but so does any other professional activity - the same kind of thoughtful process that I see Merg, Kirk, QT, Sandy and lots of others here apply to the traditional photography. I am sure that their methodology plays a huge part in their success and there is absolutely no reason to expect different for any other technology.

  6. #16

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    Re: Digital Capture vs. Film Capture...the PRINTS...

    Quote Originally Posted by Merg Ross View Post
    What concerns me in all of this is not the inevitable comparisons of film versus digital images. Both have their own special look.

    My concern is where will this digital prominence lead us, say in the year 2059. Having been around awhile, I am using equipment that I purchased fifty years ago, for the majority of my work. I have made purchases along the way, but not many. That, of course, is due to the lack of great technological advances in film based photography over the last fifty years. When film and paper disappear, I will be out of business, but the beauty of aging is that both will be around as long as I will.

    So, my question is, how many photographers invovlved with digital work find it necessary to make major purchases to keep abreast of technological changes. Will what you purchase today be useful in fifty years, ten years, five years?

    Kirk, do you miss the days when a 90mm on a Calumet Wide was sufficient, or do you feel digital is giving your clients a better product? I think I know the answer, like all of us, former and present in your field, we strive to please the client and deliver accordingly. I have said this before, as a former commercial photographer I am relieved that I retired at about the time digital made an entrance. What little I comprehend about digital, I enjoy. For now, I will continue with what I understand best, silver.
    Merg, I'll try to answer this question from another angle. You are basing your craft on certain technology, as was the norm all along until the computers were introduced into the mainstream. The information revolution that they brought with them was named so because for the first time in history a non-physical entity - information - has become the base of everything. The actual technology used for its processing becomes less and less relevant and more easily and indeed more frequently replaceable.

    In other words, the image itself is becoming everything as it becomes increasingly detached from the technology that produced it.

    I may have easier time accepting it since I've worked in an information-based profession all my life - or perhaps I chose such a path because it came easier to me, I am not really sure, but I can tell you with certainty that I have enjoyed it all along precisely because of its changeability. The beauty of this kind of work is that there is always something new to learn and to play with. Change is simply part of the equation, not something to fight.

    One of the changes that digital brought along is that digital cameras now replace not just the old film cameras but also the film itself. One now buys both the camera and the supply of film for the life of that camera. The other change, less obvious and more long term, at least the way I see it, is the gradual shift from purchasing the equipment and media to renting it. When you think about it in terms of the end-product - the information, aka the image, detached from the technology that produces it - why would you want to purchase something that you could neither fully utilize nor amortize during its short lifespan?

    That, IMO, is a much bigger shift than simple change of technologies. Like all new paradigms in history, it will take a couple of generations to fully complete. We are now in the middle of it and only the youngest among us may see the end of it. That is what makes it so stressful to some and so exciting for the others.

  7. #17

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    Re: Digital Capture vs. Film Capture...the PRINTS...

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Bagbey View Post
    I keep reading in trade publications about "big time-big money" wedding, food, and portrait photogs who have given up digitial and gone back to film.
    Frank,

    Can you cite the sources for some of these articles? My experience is that real pro photographers using digital cameras are very happy and wouldn't consider going back to film.

    Frankly Frank, I keep reading these claims in photo forums yet the real world evidence is to the contrary.

    Thanks,

    Don Bryant

  8. #18
    The Prints of Darkness JBrunner's Avatar
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    Re: Digital Capture vs. Film Capture...the PRINTS...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Michael View Post
    Since Merg mentioned 2059, how much digital content from today will still be around compared to analog? Short term storage of digital media isn't much of a challenge, but very long term accessibility/archivability is.

    I just came across some images I took at a civil rights march in Forsyth County, Georgia in 1987, including one that was so apropos to the recent election it was amazing. It would take careful planning on my part to make sure I had digital images preserved 20 years from now. The images I found had simply been filed away.
    It is my feeling that a print (quality pigment ink, toned silver, platinum, etc) or a negative is currently the best method for practical real world long term archivability of any image, regardless of if it is digital or film originated. My reasoning is that in these forms an image requires little or no forward migration/upgrading etc. as do digital files. The current downfall of digital storage is the rapid morphing (by historical standards) of the way the information is stored and retrieved. In the near future CD's and DVD's will be difficult to access as a new standard evolves and computers cease to have these drives, much as none of them have scuzzi ports or floppy slots these days. Perhaps some day we will have a stable non proprietary universally readable method of digital storage (crystals?) It should be noted that the negative in my case, and probably for many others is an intermediate step, and preservation of my negatives preserves only that, and not my printing.
    The Prints of Darkness

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  9. #19

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    Re: Digital Capture vs. Film Capture...the PRINTS...

    While I come from Mergs generation and have always used film processes I am equally interested in all digital work. I see no preferential distinctions between the methods and processes used to generate any artwork. Choosing a process is up to the artist alone and it is up to the artist to carry that method to the highest level of craftsmanship while at the same time capturing his unique vision. The eventual viewer doesn't matter unless you're in a commercial venture.

    But of course everyone has a bias of one sort or another and such bias derives from ones life experiences. One of the things that bothers me about a digital work flow (that I'm trying to currently master) is that a lot of the craft is out of my hands. In principle I can't inject myself (or my art if you will) into the work flow very effectively since it is already canned. That is not to say one can't do a bunch of things that are clearly impossible in an all film work flow but the canned aspect is beginning to nag at me. I wonder if anyone else has this feeling of detachment?

    Nate Potter, Austin TX.

  10. #20

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    Re: Digital Capture vs. Film Capture...the PRINTS...

    I think this is a good point, and it is one of the reasons I am not very concerned for the long term storage of my negatives and/or digital files that have never been printed. Since I only print by contact I have a print of some type of all my best work that should have good permanence, as well as a negative. Even images made originally with digital capture must have have a negative, same as the images originally caught on film and then scanned.

    Along the way I have produced thousands of other negatives with various format film cameras, and recently a fair amount of files from digital capture, which has never been printed for one reason or another (mostly because I made a conscious artistic decision to not print it). My thinking is that if I have never made a print from a negative or digital file the material is essentially not relevant to my work as a photographer. In fact, assuming that I am given the time, before I die my intention is to do my wife and family a favor and destroy all of my negatives and digital files that have never been printed.

    Sandy King


    Quote Originally Posted by JBrunner View Post
    It is my feeling that a print (quality pigment ink, toned silver, platinum, etc) or a negative is currently the best method for practical real world long term archivability of any image, regardless of if it is digital or film originated. My reasoning is that in these forms an image requires little or no forward migration/upgrading etc. as do digital files. The current downfall of digital storage is the rapid morphing (by historical standards) of the way the information is stored and retrieved. In the near future CD's and DVD's will be difficult to access as a new standard evolves and computers cease to have these drives, much as none of them have scuzzi ports or floppy slots these days. Perhaps some day we will have a stable non proprietary universally readable method of digital storage (crystals?) It should be noted that the negative in my case, and probably for many others is an intermediate step, and preservation of my negatives preserves only that, and not my printing.

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